Battered Kazak Wives Receive Little Support
Monday, June 20, 2005 11:10 AM

In the southern region of Kazakstan, women are facing an increasing amount of violence. In 2004, there were more than 1,500 reported complaints of violence against women, many of which were categorizes as a domestic dispute. In one-third of the cases, police refused to charge the perpetrator. This is the first year that a penalty is available for domestic violence. In cases for which charges are issued, the penalty is either 15 days in jail or a fine of up to 745USD. Judges indicate a preference for the fine due to the high costs that are incurred from jailing someone.

Meanwhile, women are left without support. Nearly half of all women living in rural Kazakstan are repeatedly abused by their spouses or boyfriends. Many suffer in silence, afraid of societal perceptions or due to family pressure, but also because they have nowhere to turn. One woman spoke about the difficulty in leaving her battering husband. With six children and her husband as the sole breadwinner, she felt that she was unable to leave him. There are currently no free shelters that would provide victims with food, temporary housing and psychological counseling. Law enforcement officials indicate that they are doing what they can to prevent the abuse by putting psychological pressure on the batterers with regular visits to their homes. Meanwhile, advocates are awaiting the passage of a new draft law that will provide more protection for victims.

Compiled from:  Baituova, Gaziza, "Little Support for Kazak Wives," institute for war and peace reporting, 16 June 2005.